Pakistan: Reactions on the Death of Osama Bin Laden


This post first appeared on Global Voices and is a part of Global Voices special coverage The Death of Osama Bin Laden.

On May 1, 2011, around 10 p.m. EST it was announced that President Obama would hold a press conference on an important issue. While the world was waiting for Obama to appear, Twitter was flooded with thousands of tweets guessing about what he was going to say.

A few minutes later Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld, tweetedthat the chief of Al Qaeda, top terrorist Osama Bin Laden had been killed and news media started to jump on the story. Soon the Twittersphere started to explode with tweets from all over the world.

Image Courtesy Google Maps

Early tweets from Pakistan

But earlier in the day a Pakistani tweep from Abbottabad, @ReallyVirtual, had captured some moments during the raid in his tweets.

@Reallyvirtual: Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).

In an intelligence driven operation, earlier this morning on May 2, Osama Bin Ladin was killed in the city of Abbotabad, 80 kilometers from the Pakistani capital Islamabad. According to a statement released by Pakistan’s Foreign Office:

This operation was conducted by the US [United States] forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Ladin will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.

Reports state that Osama was shot in the head while US military choppers took part in the operation on a hideout in Abottabad. Initial reactions from Pakistanis on Twitter started pouring in when the raid was ongoing.

News channels began reporting that a helicopter had crashed near the Kakol military academy on what they called an empty plot. Twitter users exclaim:

@Mosharrafzaidi: Helicopter crashes near PMA Kakul. What was a low-flying heli doing flying around Abottabad Cantt at 0130 hrs?

@Reallyvirtual: Here’s the location of the Abbottabad crash according to some people >>>http://on.fb.me/khjf34

As the news broke out news channels began broadcasting reports and analysis on Bin Laden’s death and its implications.

@kursed: Accd to Pakistani officials Shuja Pasha visited US on April 11, for finalizing op details for #OBL raid.

@kursed: Again, according to Pakistani sources, choppers came from Ghazi AB (Tarbela). Total of 6 helicopters.

@Mahamali05: woah. Journalist Javed Ch just used the word ‘Shaheed’ for Laden. you have got to be kidding me

@sharmeenochinoy: #pakistan news channels should be taken off air if they really think #OsamaBinLaden is a martyr- he is a terrorist call a spade a spade

@akchisti: anyone calling #OBL a martyr should be charged with article 6, “high treason” in #Pakistan

Till now there has been no official statement from Pakistan’s Inter Services Pubilc Relations (ISPR) or the government on the details of the operation. Whereas President Obama was quick to respond and had already declared that a US military-led operation was successful in achieving its target. Osama Bin Laden’s death or capture has been one of the top priorities of the US Government in the last decade.

@Kursed: I can’t fathom why hasn’t either ISPR or the Gov. of Pakistan come up with a response to this incident as yet. This is plain idiocy now.

@Zalmay Zia: ISPR directed all parties, media, analyst not to comment on #obl arrest till ISPR breifing

@Mustafa_Qadri: Pakistan forces keeping relatively quiet about their pivotal role in Osama assassination for fear of reprisal

Ahsan Butt at Five Rupees shared his immediate thoughts on the death of Bin laden, answering some vital questions and possible repercussions.

For Pakistanis, it likely means more suicide bombings. Every time there is a so-called “success” in this war, from “liberating” Lal Masjid to killing Baitullah Mehsud, there is increased violence, as militant groups try to remind everyone they’re still around and not going anywhere. I have no reason to expect that that pattern will change.

@sharmeenochinoy: Just got off phone with my #madrassa contact great mourning planned according to him #Pakistan will pay a high price for this.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&geocode=&q=Abbott%C4%81bad,+Khyber+Pakhtunkhwa,+Pakistan&aq=0&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=54.621153,114.169922&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Abbott%C4%81bad,+Abbottabad,+Khyber+Pakhtunkhwa,+Pakistan&t=h&ll=34.168214,73.208465&spn=0.040053,0.073557&z=14&output=embed
View Larger Map

(Google map of Bin Laden’s hideout via thepunit)

Kalsoom at CHUP- Changing Up Pakistan has these questions:

It was also located near a Pakistani military academy, which begs the question, was bin Laden hiding in the area because he was an ISI asset? Or did the Pakistani military know he was there and was helping U.S. forces monitor his presence? Did Pakistan know that the U.S. knew that they knew? The questions are endless and speculation is infinite.

Possible backlash

The death of Bin Laden is being a considered a huge victory in the war on terror but its implications and possible backlash in Pakistan is fearful. Some analysts in Pakistan have gone as far as stating that the US should now wrap up its war against terror. Overlooking the fact that Al-Qaeda was never a one-man led army and many more factions of the militant group have now been formed and functioning. Therefore claims that the war on terror is over reflect lack of foresight.

As Ahsan & Chinoy rightly points out more Pakistanis will have to bear the consequences as militant groups react to the news. There are far too many questions that need to be answered. From details of the operation to the future of the war on terror, but one thing is for certain the fears of repercussions after Bin Laden’s death are a reality for people not only in abbotabad but across Pakistan.

@Mehreenkasana: Does this change anything? For Afghanistan, Pakistan? Will this stop the unprecedented gore caused by drone attacks? No, no and no.

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4 thoughts on “Pakistan: Reactions on the Death of Osama Bin Laden”

  1. I have to agree that ‘the war on terror’ is far from over. But as this article was addressing the media and social network coverage; I thought I would share some observations from what I heard on the Australian media.
    As soon as the Obama press conference was over, we had ‘experts’ on the radio explaining that Pakistani youth see Osama Bin Laden as a Che Guevera figure (?), that there are no excuses for the Afghanistan War to continue and how this is a great moral victory for the USA.
    But on the same night, our Prime Minister Gillard reiterated Obama’s statement that Australian Armed Forces will still be involved in Afghanistan and we had a statement from our former Foreign Minister Fitzgerald attacking the Pakistan Government and ISI for failing to co- operate with the US Government and for harbouring terrorists.
    This worries me a great deal… from my reading Pakistan is in a very unstable situation as it is, worsening with each Drone and with the Davis incident. I have a nasty feeling, which I cannot prove, that maybe the US and Allies are softening their citizens for another operation within Pakistan and to continue the war in Afghanistan. Please pray that I am wrong…

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